There is a wildly popular new book out by Shonda Rhimes; you know her as the creator of all things steamy and heart pounding on ABC. She has created the hits we have grown to love: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. Surprisingly this super creative, TV producer, single mommy, is an introvert and while she comes up with all this enticing TV drama her own life by her own accord was anything but that. In her book titled The Year of Yes, she writes about being afraid to accept invitations and how her fear kept her from living her best life. This isn’t the first time the idea of saying yes has been popular. There was even a Jim Carrey movie, Yes Man, where his character has the same epiphany. Say Yes! Be open to what the universe has to give you! I subscribed to this philosophy too until the Universe smacked me in the face.
In my book Single Mom Chic, I talk about My Year of No and how as an extrovert and self-proclaimed single mommy superhero, I thought I could do it all. I was raising my daughters, getting a master’s degree, working full time and accepting every invitation that came my way. I had a really great group of girlfriends and there was always something to celebrate. I found myself acting like an overage homecoming queen. I needed to be the center of everything. I couldn’t let anyone down by saying no and I hit a wall. I simply couldn’t keep up the superwoman charade anymore. I actually became physically ill. No one could figure out what was wrong with me. They thought it was an autoimmune disease but no test could confirm it. I finally had to say “No”. Surprisingly, the world kept spinning. It actually did not revolve around me. It was freeing for me. I liked saying “No” so much that I started to say no to everything. I had my Year of No and what I found was that it gave me the ability to focus on what really mattered. While I thought I was managing it all and multitasking just fine, when I took a break from all of the distractions I realized that I hadn’t been doing nearly as well as I thought I was. I had a more laser like focus. It reminds me of Steve Jobs saying not to do a hundred things. Do one thing really well. Well, as single mom’s we are never going to do ONE thing but it is imperative that we have focus and that we focus on the things that really matter instead of spreading ourselves so thin that we are compromising our health. That certainly is not living your best life.
During my Year of No I focused on getting myself healthy again. I didn’t drop out of my master’s program, quit my day job or stop being single mommy extraordinaire, but I did become more protective of my time. Eventually I did start saying “Yes” again but I was much more selective. What I found was that I was also much more present! I was attending events that I really wanted to attend and enjoying them instead of watching my clock and wondering when I could make a mad dash for the door because my daughters had dance practice or a violin concert, right after said event. For me that was liberating and healing. It seems that for a lot of single moms we fall into one category or the other trying to do too much or not doing enough. Life really is all about balance and sometimes in order to find that balance you must go to the extreme even if it is just for a little while.
I’d love to hear what your plans are for 2016! Will this be your Year of Yes, Your Year of No or your Goldilocks (just right) year?